Archive for the ‘Bay Area News’ Category

Hot Box Photo MeetUp, Mare Island, Vallejo, CA, March 20th — UPDATE CANCELLED

UPDATE: Due to the heavy rain scheduled for tonight we are cancelling this photowalk. We’ll reschedule Mare Island soon.

A group of us from the Hot Box Uncensored group on Flickr are going to be getting together on Sunday March 20th for an evening of shooting out on Mare Island in Vallejo. Sunset is approx 7:21pm that night, so we’ll plan on meeting at 6:30pm and then shoot the last hour or so of day light into the sunset and into the night. We’ll have a full moon that night so it should make for some fun night shooting. After we’re all done, for those who would like, we can go hit up a local bar in Vallejo somewhere there and catch up.

All are welcome from beginners to experts, bring your tripod if you have one. 🙂

You can follow this thread on Flickr to get more of the details as the meetup progresses.

A few photos of mine from previous outings to Mare Island below.

There's More Than One Way Off the Island

Artship, Plate 2

Before the Flood

Lights Went Out

Oakland Protests the Johannes Mehserle Verdict

This Modern Sheriff

Yesterday afternoon and evening a few hundred protesters protested the verdict handed down to Johannes Mehserle for the charge of involuntary manslaughter over the killing of Oscar Grant. A Los Angeles judge sentenced Mehserle to two years in prison with credit for time served, considered by many the shortest sentence he possibly could have received.

Angered at the verdict, protesters began arriving at the Oakland City Hall steps at about 2pm. The protest around City Hall was peaceful and many members of the community took turns speaking for a number of hours. For the most part the speeches seemed to just be people angry with the outcome. There were a few protesters who called for violence — that someone should put a bullet in Mehserle’s back as soon as he gets out of prison and that people should burn Oakland to the ground.

The police largely kept away from the protest during the speeches but emerged after the City Hall rally ended and people began marching in the streets. The march splintered off into several smaller groups, some who burned cars and vandalized parts of East Oakland. The Bay Citizen reports that Oakland PD arrested over 100.

I mostly stayed around Broadway and 14th Street after the protest with my wife, Keoki Seu and Troy Holden shooting portraits of mostly Marin cops who had been brought in as reinforcements while the Oakland PD and helicopters followed the crowd and violence into East Oakland. I was pretty happy with a lot of the portraits I got last night.

You can see my complete set of images from yesterday afternoon/evening’s protest here.

2010 San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

Burned Home, San Bruno Gas Line Explosion, 2010

See a slideshow of my San Bruno pipeline explosion photos here.

See my San Bruno pipeline explosion set here.

I took these photos on the morning of September 19th of some of the damage from the San Bruno PG&E pipeline explosion. As of this morning, most of the disaster area is still heavily guarded by various law enforcement agencies.

More from wikipedia.

The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion occurred at 6:11 p.m. PDT on September 9, 2010, in San Bruno, California, when a 30 inch steel natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric exploded in flames.

The loud roar and shaking led some residents of the area, first responders, and news media to initially believe that it was an earthquake or that a large airplane from nearby San Francisco International Airport had crashed. It took crews nearly an hour to determine it was a gas pipeline explosion.[

Reports about the number of deaths are conflicting. According to the San Bruno chief of police seven were dead and six were missing as of Saturday September 11, but the coroner’s office questioned the information from the police department, stating only four deaths were confirmed. Many were hospitalized with injuries. 37 homes were destroyed by the blaze, with about 8 badly damaged. USGS registered the explosion and resulting shock wave as a magnitude 1.1 earthquake. Eye witnesses reported the initial blast “had a wall of fire more than 1000 feet high”.

Had a Great Time Photowalking Last Night at the Albany Bulb

Figures on a Beach

Thanks to all who came out last night for Scott Kelby’s Third Annual Worldwide Photowalk that we held out at the Albany Bulb in the East Bay. The weather was a bit chilly but it was a great evening to be shooting out there. We started our walk about 6:15 and headed back into the Bulb to shoot some amazing sculpture that local artists have sort of spontaneously installed there. We continued shooting around the Bulb, said hi to few local residents, and ended up at the Castle (this sort of man made concrete structure) where we shot the sunset. After the sun set a group of us headed over to Spenger’s in Berkeley where we had a few drinks and for some of us some dinner.

Overall I was pretty happy with how things went last night. I’ve led a lot of photowalks in the past, but this was the first time I’d led a Scott Kelby one. I thought Kelby and his team were pretty organized in terms of putting the basics together to help team leaders put on these walks. There were 1,111 different photowalks yesterday, all over the planet and over 33,000 different photographers participating. That’s huge!

Those participants who registered prior to the event will have until July 31 to submit what they feel is their best photo from the walk for the contest. Also if everyone who went on the walk could tag their images with worldwidephotowalk2010 that would be great. I’ve also started a group on Flickr for our Albany Bulb walk where those who came can post photos from the walk.

Several on last night’s walks were on their first photowalk. Others were photowalking veterans. It was great catching up with so many old friends and getting to meet some new ones as well. If you went on the walk I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The Bulb is a magical place and I think we got it just right heading out there at sunset.

Some of you on the walk asked about the history of the Bulb. The following is taken from the Bulb’s wikipedia page:

The Bulb was created in 1963, after the City of Albany and Santa Fe, which owned the land, signed a contract for the disposal of construction debris. Lawsuits against the landfill operator brought the dumping to a halt in 1987. Following the lawsuit, the shoreline associated with The Bulb became part of The Eastshore State Park, while the City of Albany maintained ownership of The Bulb itself. Today, 99% of The Bulb is owned by the City of Albany, the other 1% being owned by East Bay Regional Park District.

There is a site devoted to news on the Bulb here.

I’ve posted my set of images from last night’s walk here, I’ll be adding more to it in the days, weeks and months ahead. For those of you who are interested in doing another photowalk next month, Invisible Cirkus is coming to town from Miami and we’ve got another one scheduled in San Francisco’s Mission District on August 22.

Oakland Police Department Takes Photos From Flickr and Asks for the Public’s Help in Identifying Looters

Looter Runs Down Broadway With Items Taken From Foot Locker, Oakland Riots, 2010

I saw an article on the the San Francisco Chronicle web site today entitled “Oakland Police Looking for Looting Suspects.” The article reports on the Oakland Police Department’s latest efforts to prosecute looters who participated in last week’s Johannes Merserle protest that turned violent with rioting and looting taking place after dark. Oakland PD has now released a number of photos of alleged looters from that evening’s protest.

The people in the photos are “involved criminal activity” and could face arrest and prosecution, said Officer Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.

Interestingly enough I recognized several of the photographs that the Oakland PD had released as my own photos that I’d taken the night of the riots and had posted to my own Flickr account. I was never contacted by the Oakland PD regarding their use or distribution by Oakland PD. It’s interesting to see law enforcement taking photos by citizen media and using them this way. I wonder about the legality behind this sort of use. Would the Oakland PD be able to also rebroadcast or redistribute photos or video from established mainstream media? And I wonder if the police have to abide by the copyrights of individual photographers in redistributing their work or if they have some sort of legal protection.

Oakland Riots After Johannes Mehserle Verdict of Involuntary Manslaughter

Protestor Flips Off Police Officers While Smoking a Joint, Oakland Riots 2010

You can see a complete set of my images from last night’s riots here.

Last night protesters in Oakland, CA rioted after a Los Angeles jury convicted former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle of Involuntary Manslaughter. Mehserle, a whilte police officer, had been on trial for a highly visible shooting of black Oscar Grant in the back during a 2009 New Year’s Day incident at the Fruitvale BART station.

Protesters had been planning for over a week to meet at the corner of Broadway and 14th streets in Downtown Oakland after the verdict was announced to respond. Local community leaders and activists had been advocating a peaceful gathering after the verdict, but last night’s gathering in the end turned violent as many suspected it would.

I attended the protest from the announcement of the verdict at about 4:10pm until police declared the area an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to leave the area or be arrested at about 9pm — covering a lot of it on Twitter at the time. The protest was also heavily covered by Bay Area news media.

When I first arrived at the corner at 4pm the tension was pretty high. There was a small group of people (maybe 50) mostly composed of news media, photographers and a handful of protesters. Protesters were hoping that Mehserle would be convicted of 2nd degree murder. When he came in as not guilty of 2nd degree murder and instead only guilty of involuntary manslaughter, people immediately started reacting. Mostly it was just individual protesters giving loud speeches for the TV cameras. Many of the speeches were very inflammatory with one protester saying that white people needed to be murdered. At this point there were no police in sight.

As the crowd grew, protesters decided to take over the intersection of 14th and Broadway. One protester blocked a bus in the intersection which was quickly surrounded by other protesters. This is when the police showed up. At first a small group of officers made their way towards the bus in a small police ATV with a loudspeaker/crowd control device on the top. They demanded that protesters let the bus go though. They had since blocked off Broadway to other traffic. Tension was very high and protesters immediately began to crowd towards the ATV and it had to rapidly reverse course so as not to get surrounded. A police car also made its way to rescue the bus but it too was almost engulfed in people. The police car quickly went into reverse and a woman was knocked down. Protesters claimed that the police ran over and injured the woman.

Police Arrive In ATV With Sound Blasting System on Top, Oakland Riots, 2010

F*ck the Police, Oakland Riots, 2010Protestor Holds Up Bus In Intersection, Oakland RiotsRioters Begin Looting Foot Locker, Oakland Riots, 2010Riot Police Hold Line at 15th and Broadway, Oakland Riots, 2010

Police then held a riot line in full riot gear on 13th Street just West of Broadway. Here protesters began taunting the riot police (see photo at top). Protesters were demanding that the police take a police report for running over the woman. They demanded that they help the woman but the police wouldn’t break their line and told protesters that emergency professionals were on the way to assist the woman.

Oakland PD had been training for these riots and quickly surrounded Broadway street with riot police lines effectively containing everybody in an area between 13th and 15th on Broadway. For the next few hours things seemed to really calm down after this. The police held their riot lines but allowed people in and out of the protest area. Several speakers including Oscar Grant’s grandfather gave speeches on a loudspeaker at the corner of Broadway and 14th calling for peace and trying to keep the crowd from turning violent.

The first business to be vandalized that I saw was a Subway Sandwich shop. Protesters broke the windows of the store. It was about this time that the Oakland PD decided to begin containing the crowd and moved the riot line from 13th Street up Broadway. This is when things started to get ugly. There were some heated interactions with protesters that quickly turned violent as police began yanking a few protesters in their way out of the way and arresting them. They forced their way about halfway up Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets and commanded on their loudspeakers that people move North on Broadway.

People started then throwing rocks and bottles at the riot police. The riot police largely ignored this activity and held their lines. The California Highway Patrol rolled in as reinforcement and handled a big part of the Northern riot line. Protesters were angry and upset with some of the CHP officers who had brought assault style weaponry with them.

Protesters then turned violent on the businesses mostly between 14th and 15th Streets on Broadway. Most of the businesses on this stretch of Broadway had their windows broken out. Some of the businesses had been boarded up and so looters could not get in. But looters did manage to get into the Foot Locker and began stealing all of the merchandise in the store. At this point the police all of a sudden made some very rapid pushes up Broadway which startled the crowd and sent everyone running the other way up Broadway. Several protesters were violently yanked from the front of the line and pulled back and arrested.

It had grown dark by this time and rioters were also setting many small fires around the area in the trashcans and with debris from the Foot Locker store. It was at this point, at about 9pm, that police began to squeeze all of the protesters into a smaller and smaller space. At it’s height there were probably about 3,000 or so protesters in the area I’d estimate. By dark though there were probably only about 400 or so left. It was then that police came on their loudspeakers informing the crowd that they were an unlawful assembly and told everyone that anyone in the area would be subject to immediate arrest.

Protesters continued vandalizing the area mostly damaging storefronts and police cars which where parked on Broadway. At this point I decided to leave to avoid arrest and went down to the 19th Street BART station. Shortly after I entered the BART station they closed the station which was heavily patrolled by BART police in RIOT gear. At that point they directed people to the 12th Street BART station which had heavily patrolled and controlled entrances.

From news reports that I watched after that they said that smaller bands of rioters continued to riot in areas around 17th Street, but that the majority of the crowd had been dispersed. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums along with Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts monitored the situation from a command center and the police continued to arrest protesters that they could on the streets.

Overall I have to give credit to the Oakland PD for the way that they handled this very dangerous situation. I was impressed with their professionalism and how well they managed to prevent the crowd from turning into a much bigger riot than it was. It was a very tough night to be a cop in Oakland and you could tell from their own facial expressions that they were under a tremendous amount of stress maintaining the peace.

While there were very dramatic incidents where they arrested protesters, I thought that generally speaking they treated everybody there with respect, despite the taunting that they took. They obviously had been planning and training for this verdict for a while and I thought that last night that paid off for them. The crowd was much larger than the riots that I covered over the same incdient in Oakland last year but they were able to much better control the situation.

This year a few other photographers and I had arranged to shoot the protest ahead of time and much of the night I spent shooting with Troy Holden, Stuart Dixon, Travis Jensen and Keoki Seu. Be sure to check out their photos as well at their photostreams linked above. Troy, Stuart and Travis also all shoot for Caliber where they also have some of their best images.

Oakland Braces for Possible Riots

Oakland Braces For Possible Riots

Many of the businesses in Downtown Oakland boarded up their store fronts this afternoon in anticipation of a potential verdict in the Johannes Mersehle murder trial. Mersehle, a white BART police officer is being tried for the murder of black Oscar Grant. Grant was shot in the back while laying face down at a Fruitvale BART station in the early morning of last New Year’s Day.

The jury in the case went into deliberation this afternoon. If the jury does not announce a verdict today they will reconvene to deliberate on Tuesday after the 4th of July Holiday weekend.

Downtown Oakland was pretty quiet earlier this afternoon. A few men were selling Oscar Grant signs and t-shirts on the corner of 14th and Broadway where protestors are expected to gather after the verdict. In addition to many of the stores downtown being boarded up, many of the stores also had signs in their windows in support of Oscar Grant.

Over the last few days local community and business leaders have been urging people in Oakland to remain calm and respond peacefully to any verdict that is announced.

In 2009 riots erupted in Oakland in response to the shooting. Oakland PD have been training for riots recently and it is reported that several other Bay Area police departments and the National Guard are on standby in case Oakland PD needs help after a verdict is announced.

You can see my set of images from last year’s riots here.



The fully armed Russian warship Varyag left San Francisco earlier this morning. The warship was the first Russian surface warship to visit San Francisco in 147 years and was sent here in the “spirit of friendship,” according to Russian Rear Admiral Vladimir Kastonov.

The warship’s visit coincided with Russian President Dmitry Medvedv’s visit this past week to Silicon Valley where he met with a number of technology companies and executives.

Ships like the Varyag are known as “the killer of aircraft carriers” as they can launch very large explosives or tactical nuclear warheads up to 300 miles away. The ship has sixteen distinctive missiles in four pairs on both sides of the ship.

Victoria Kolakowski, The Unethical Choice for Alameda County Superior Court Judge, Tries to Argue That California Campaigns Can Hire Out of State Telemarketers to Do Illegal Robodialing

Vote No for Victoria Kolakowski(b) No person shall operate an automatic dialing-announcing device except in accordance with this article. The use of such a device by any person, either individually or acting as an officer, agent, or employee of a person or corporation operating automatic dialing-announcing devices, is subject to this article.

(a) Whenever telephone calls are placed through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device, the device may be operated only after an unrecorded, natural voice announcement has been made to the person called by the person calling. The announcement shall do all of the following:

(1) State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business or organization being represented, if any.

(2) Inquire as to whether the person called consents to hear the prerecorded message of the person calling.


For the past few weeks I’ve been reporting on Alameda Superior Court Candidate Victoria Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing she is currently using as part of her unethical campaign for Alameda Superior Court Judge.

Kolakowski interrupted my son’s baseball game a few Sunday’s back when she illegally robodialed my cell phone with this recorded message by Oakland City Attorney John Russo.

Currently the California PUC (where Kolakowski is a sitting law judge sworn to uphold the law) regulates robodialing in the state of California. As you can see from the California code above, robodialing people in the State of California is explicitly illegal unless first introduced by an unrecored “natural voice announcement” asking if you will allow it. The fact that Kolakowski is a sitting law judge at the very agency that regulates illegal robodials (while using them herself) is troubling to me. Does Kolakowski think that she is above the law? And is this the sort of person we’d want as a Superior Court Judge?

Last week KCBS reported on Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing here.

Apparently the Kolakowski campaign has gotten back to KCBS claiming that “one interpretation of the law” is that her robodials are not “technically” illegal because she hired someone to make the calls from outside of the State of California. From KCBS’s update:

“Kolakowski says her calls, that feature the Oakland city attorney promoting her local candidacy, are being placed from outside California and thus outside CPUC jurisdiction. Under one interpretation of the law, that would make them legal.”

So let me see if I get this straight. Even though robocalls are *explicitly* illegal in the State of California, a law judge at the California PUC (the very agency that is charged with enforcing this law) thinks that it’s ok to hire some political hack to make illegal calls from outside of the state into the state?

So then under this logic all *any* company has to do to illegal robodial people in California is simply have the calls originate from out of state? So any California insurance company or bank or telemarketing scam selling auto warranties or carpet cleaning company or mattresses company or whatever, can just hire some company to start blasting millions of robodials into California homes and this is hunky dory? How fast do you think the California PUC would shut down an auto warranty scam from Arkansas targeting California seniors with illegal robodials?

The California Code to me is clear that not only can California businesses or corporations or campaigns not make illegal robodials, that agents on their behalf also cannot.

If *anyone* can simply pay to have their calls done from another state, this means that the California law does absolutely *nothing* to protect our privacy from these unwanted intrusions into our lives and homes. Under Kolakowski’s interpretation, our law has no teeth.

California businesses (including campaigns) should be subject to California law.

The fact that a current law judge at the PUC would try to twist the law this way is enormously offensive to me. But I suppose that’s just politics as usual. Politicians get to cheat and get away with it.

Even if one could argue this case on a technicality, the spirit of the California law is clear. It was enacted to protect Californians from these unwanted calls. I’m disappointed that Kolakowski would stoop to this low level and hope that you will join me in voting against her in the upcoming race for Alameda Superior Court judge. Our public servants should obey both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Update: On Slashdot here.

Mid-Century By The Bay, by Heather M. David

Mid-Century By the Bay, by Heather M David

Heather M. David’s remarkable new book, Mid-Century By The Bay, is a wonderful journey through the cultural and physical landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area circa 1950-1970. David’s first book, the 151 page effort is chock full of unique Bay Area architecture, attractions, and culture. She does a wonderful job of capturing a period of post war optimism when anything seemed possible and San Francisco and the surrounding area was set to full throttle, full speed ahead.

Mid-Century by the Bay spends many of its pages especially focusing on and celebrating the beautiful Googie architecture that was so prevalent in the 50s and 60s — homes by Branden, Bohannon, Eichler, Kaiser and Mackay, Bay Area schools and churches, shopping centers, new modern offices, distribution centers and banks. David, a Bay Area native, has compiled some wonderful photography from our past showcasing so many of these great structures that so vividly expressed the decades. Some of these structures persist today, even while so many have disappeared and are no longer with us.

More than just architecture though, David’s book is an impressive collection of ephemera that really digs into the culture of the time. Brightly colored matchbooks from bowling alleys that once were so common, postcards, maps, souvenirs, her book is full of these momentos that so strongly invoke nostalgia for a different day.

The book covers so many interesting and unique locations: the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa’s Village, Tahoe, wine country, the wonderful neon signs of the Bay Area, Frontier Village, Storyland, Playland by the Beach — one after another the book provides both photos and write ups on so many wonderful bygone places.

In addition to this book, David also maintains a flickr account with many remarkable mid-century images here. You can also find her site SV Modern (celebrating Silicon Valley’s Mid-Century Past) here.

David’s book is $40 and can be purchased here. If you’d like to see a sampler of some of the pages inside the book, she has one up on her Flickrstream here. Her book is a labor of love independently produced and represents the best of what is possible with self-publishing these days. If you are a fan of the Bay Area’s history, or a student of the 50s and 60s more generally speaking, you won’t want to miss this wonderful record. Buying a copy of this great publication for you or as a gift for an interested friend is a great way to help support this sort of independent research and publication.